Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

A History of Tourism in Africa
Exoticization, Exploitation, and Enrichment

By Todd Cleveland

“Ready for adventure under control? Cleveland’s book invites us to explore the experiences and meanings of tourism in Africa and its profound impact on how the continent is imagined. It also provides a different reading of Western modernity as a producer of otherness through one of its most profitable products: tourism, where verbs such as to travel become to explore and to discover, preserving the allure of colonial sagas and developmental missions. Experience of difference, heritage, traditions, nature, wildlife, and community culture, have been and are (re)shaped, tailored, commodified, and contested in complex and conflicting local-global power relations from the nineteenth century under the dynamics of tourism in the continent. Their impact on African lives is a capital ingredient of this journey confronting artificial Africas with the realities that the tourism industry produces.”

Mónica Inés Cejas, author of Feminismo, cultura y política: El contexto como acertijo (Feminism, Culture and Politics: Context as a Riddle)

“Todd Cleveland brings together significant facets of tourist history on the African continent into one engaging read. Whereas many tourist studies focus on the tourist, vitally, A History of Tourism in Africa illuminates the myriad competing desires at play in all tourist sites—those of tourists, governments, laborers, and local communities. By presenting these competing perspectives on tourism within the thematic frames of his chapters, Cleveland reveals the complicated nature of African tourist industries, as well as how, from the start, they have been interwoven with the history of socio-politico-economic developments across the continent.”

Carol L. Magee, author of Urban Cadence: Street Scenes from Lagos and Johannesburg

"A seminal and meticulously presented study … [and] an inherently fascinating and impressively informative history. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, A History of Tourism in Africa is an original and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections in African history and cultural anthropology in general, and African hospitality, travel, and tourism supplemental curriculum studies lists in particular.

Midwest Book Review

An engaging social history of foreign tourists’ dreams, the African tourism industry’s efforts to fulfill them, and how both sides affect each other.

Since the nineteenth century, foreign tourists and resident tourism workers in Africa have mutually relied upon notions of exoticism, but from vastly different perspectives. Many of the countless tourists who have traveled to the African continent fail to acknowledge or even realize that skilled African artists in the tourist industry repeatedly manufacture “authentic” experiences in order to fulfill foreigners’ often delusional, or at least uninformed, expectations. These carefully nurtured and controlled performances typically reinforce tourists’ reductive impressions—formed over centuries—of the continent, its peoples, and even its wildlife. In turn, once back in their respective homelands, tourists’ accounts of their travels often substantiate, and thereby reinforce, prevailing stereotypes of “exotic” Africa. Meanwhile, Africans’ staged performances not only impact their own lives, primarily by generating remunerative opportunities, but also subject the continent’s residents to objectification, exoticization, and myriad forms of exploitation.

Todd Cleveland is an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas. His books include these Ohio University Press titles: Sports in Africa, Past and Present (2020), Following the Ball: The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949–1975 (2018), Diamonds in the Rough: Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 1917–1975 (2015), and Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds (2014).   More info →


Review in the Sunday Independent, September 26, 2021


Review in the Journal of African History 1–2 (October 2022)


Order a print copy

Paperback · $23.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $29.95 · Save 20% ($23.96)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Buy an eBook

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Cover of A History of Tourism in Africa

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center


Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: February 2021
8 illus. · 216 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Release date: February 2021
8 illus. · 216 pages
Rights:  World

Related Titles

Cover of 'Safari Nation'

Safari Nation
A Social History of the Kruger National Park
By Jacob S. T. Dlamini

Safari Nation tells the history of the Kruger National Park through a black perspective, helping explain why Africa’s national parks—often derided by scholars as colonial impositions—survived the end of white rule on the continent.

History | Historical Geography · African History · Race and Ethnicity · South Africa · African Studies · Apartheid

Cover of 'The Story of Swahili'

The Story of Swahili
By John M. Mugane

Swahili was once an obscure dialect of an East African Bantu language. Today more than one hundred million people use it: Swahili is to eastern and central Africa what English is to the world. From its embrace in the 1960s by the black freedom movement in the United States to its adoption in 2004 as the African Union’s official language, Swahili has become a truly international language.

Foreign Language Study | Swahili · History | Africa | East · Africa · African Studies · Swahili

Cover of 'Sports in Africa, Past and Present'

Sports in Africa, Past and Present
Edited by Todd Cleveland, Tarminder Kaur, and Gerard Akindes

Through the prism of sports and from a range of scholarly perspectives, this anthology offers insight into the varied and shifting experiences of African athletes, fans, communities, and postcolonial states.

Sports & Recreation | Sociology of Sports · African History · Africa · African Studies · Social Science | Anthropology | Cultural & Social

Cover of 'Finding Dr. Livingstone'

Finding Dr. Livingstone
A History in Documents from the Henry Morton Stanley Archives
Edited by Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi and James L. Newman
· Foreword by Guido Gryseels and Dominique Allard

Never-before-published documents from Henry Stanley’s historic 1871 expedition to what is now Tanzania in search of David Livingstone recasts Stanley’s sensationalized narrative with new details about the people involved, their systems of knowledge, commerce, and labor, the natural environment, and the spread of modern colonial powers in Africa.

History | Expeditions & Discoveries · Literary Collections | Diaries & Journals · History | Africa | East · Eastern Africa · Tanzania · African Studies